River Research & the Boat that Makes a Difference

Lagrangian Houseboat

The Original Houseboat

There are two different ways to measure and assess water quality in river systems: one way is to measure continuously from fixed locations along a river, and the other is to measure continuously from a location that moves downstream with the river current. Through generous contributions from public and private partners, Phinizy Center has been measuring water quality since 2006 from 9 locations along the Savannah River, starting seven miles below Thurmond Dam (River Mile 214) to the I-95 bridge (River Mile 27) (see Continuous River Monitoring). In 2012, we began measuring water quality using the “river current” perspective by equipping a 30-foot houseboat with scientific instrumentation and floating, at river speed (about 3 feet per second), for over 145 river miles, which took about 5 days. That river expedition allowed us to capture very important data related to how quickly bacteria in the river process wastewater from Augusta to a few river miles above Savannah. The boat we used to do that important research was rather old, but it allowed us to do this important work, once!

In 2014, a conversation between Mr. Gary Swiggett, a boat insurance agent, and one of our Board members, Dr. Michael Ash, resulted in an excellent opportunity to purchase a boat better suited for our needs. Through a generous price reduction from the boat manufacturer, Premier in Wyoming, Minnesota, and generous philanthropic contributions from The Knox Charity Fund, Creel-Harison Foundation, and Wells Fargo, we were able to purchase the boat which arrived a week ago from Minnesota.


We would again like to thank all of those who made this opportunity happen and we look forward to sharing the data with all of you from the river!